Made In Heaven

The team of “Made In Heaven” web series at its launch. The series stars Sobhita Dhulipala, Arjun Mathur, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh, Shivani Raghuvanshi and Shashank Arora. (photo provided)

MUMBAI—Web series are the order of the day and Amazon Prime Video Original, less than 48 hours after their show ‘The End’ with Akshay Kumar was announced, presented “Made In Heaven,” their new show in conjunction with Excel Media & Entertainment and Tiger Baby Productions. The press conference was held at the Hotel J. W. Marriott Mar. 7, less than 24 hours prior to the streaming on International Women’s Day Mar. 8.

The meet witnessed the attendance of the makers of the series, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, along with one of the producers (with Farhan Akhtar), Ritesh Sidhwani. Two more directors of the series, Nitya Mehra and Alankrita Shrivastava were also present at the event. The star cast – Sobhita Dhulipala, Arjun Mathur, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh, Shivani Raghuvanshi and Shashank Arora – also graced the event.

“Made in Heaven” is Amazon Prime Video’s latest collaboration with Excel Media Entertainment following the success of “Mirzapur” and the International Emmy- nominated “Inside Edge.”

The event was flagged off with the host introducing Jennifer Saike, Head of Amazon Studios (Worldwide), James Farrell, Head of International Originals, and Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head (Content), Amazon Prime India.

“Made In Heaven” chronicles the lives of Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur), two wedding planners in Delhi. These two headstrong individuals often mask their supreme vulnerability, sometimes even from each other, as their wedding planning agency “Made In Heaven” forces them to open up and reveal themselves.

India is a potent blend of old and new, where tradition jostles with modern aspirations against the backdrop of a Big Fat Indian Wedding, revealing many secrets and many lies. There is the belief that marriages are made in heaven and it is against these sacred unions that Tara’s and Karan’s personal journeys are juxtaposed.

Shweta Tripathi, Pulkit Samrat, Amrita Puri and Manjot Singh among others play pivotal characters in the lives of Tara and Karan.

“Made In Heaven” is set to release across 200 countries and territories. Jennifer Salke, Head, Amazon Studios, said, “‘Made In Heaven’ is a show that meets our aim to pave the way for a new wave of storytelling, where cultural commentary and complex characters are presented to our customers. Created predominantly by women storytellers, it brings a different perspective to the vibrant Indian wedding scene. Global audiences have responded well to shows created in India, and this is a testament to the growing appetite for compelling, diverse content. It is our aim to be an all-inclusive service for every storyteller and every genre of story that is waiting to be told.”

Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video India, said, “This brings to Indian customers a show with a fresh storyline, incredible talent and a layered narrative that will draw the viewer in. We endeavor to bring viewers’ local, immersive stories that are relatable – this is a gripping drama series from the house of Tiger Baby Productions and our long-time collaborators, Excel Media & Entertainment.”

He went on, “Indian weddings are a heady mix of celebrations, drama and intrigue for customers everywhere and this show will offer just that by lifting the veil and looking closely at what transpires behind-the-scenes. We are ecstatic to work with Zoya, Reema and the team and we are certain that audiences will enjoy this voyeuristic view beneath the veneer of grand Indian weddings.”

Aparna Purohit, Head, Creative Development, Amazon Prime Video India, stated, “This is our second series this year that brings a new lens to cinematic story-telling. We started the year with ‘Four More Shots Please!,’ a story about urban Indian women, produced and directed by women. ‘Made in Heaven’ reiterates our commitment of bringing varied, fresh voices and storytellers to our viewers. The series has been crafted by a dream team of some of the most respected female creators, directors and writers in the country. This is a deeply nuanced social commentary on upper class, liberal, Indian society and their uncomfortable relationship with the values they preach.”

Ritesh Sidhwani added, “We have had two mega-hits in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video. We believe our next show will take our successful collaboration a step further. It holds a mirror to society, bringing to light the tussle between tradition and modernity in India. The series will certainly make viewers reflect on the state of Indian society – a culture in transition.”

Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, creators, Tiger Baby, and Akhtar said, “Creating “Made in Heaven” has been a labor of love. Our objective was to tell a story that was inherently entertaining but strong and deeply rooted in our society.”

She added, “Indian weddings acted as just the right backdrop to examine the liberal fabric of educated, modern Indians and their dichotomous value systems that co-exist peacefully at times and at others come into conflict. The nine-episode series is the culmination of the creative vision of four directors – Nitya Mehra, Prashant Nair, Alankrita Srivastava and me. And Amazon Prime Video has been a fabulous collaborator to work with.”

With each episode, the show examines a topic of social relevance and promises to be entertaining, introspective and thought-provoking – one reason why the show needed a collaboration of diverse writers and directors working as a team. “Trust,” said Mehra, “was the key to our successful collaboration.” Incidentally, while Akhtar hails from Mumbai, Mehra is from Punjab, Kagti from Assam, Srivastava from Delhi and Nair from the South. This gives the theme of weddings a broad spectrum look.

Karan is a gay man living in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Out in the world but still in the closet for his typical middle-class folks. Karan moves under the radar and does not engage with the politics of being homosexual in India. He suppresses a deep pain from his teenage years and seems unable to deal with intimacy and therefore a meaningful relationship.

Tara is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Through etiquette classes, borrowed clothes and a damaging “scandal,” she clawed her way up into the capital’s high society by marrying Adil Khanna (Jim Sarbh). She now strives for perfection and security in a marriage that is less than ideal.

With each episode, Karan and Tara enter the lives of a different bride and groom. Each wedding they serve not only introduces them to the twisted dynamics and complexities of Indian families but also provides a mirror to their true selves. It exposes the bubble they live in and the rules to which they conform. The supposedly liberal fabric of this educated modern society unravels as the duo navigate their way through forced arranged marriages, dowry transactions, virginity tests and astrological matches. It is through these experiences that Tara and Karan will change, grow and ultimately transform.

Akhtar stated that every medium – short films, big screen and web series – will co-exist now. Films were said to be threatened even with piracy and later satellite television but have survived. She echoed Sidhwani, who said that the number of pages in a script (100, less or 400!) decides in which medium a story can be presented.

From the actors, the only memorable quote came from Jim Sarbh, who quipped that it was terribly difficult to play a normal, heterosexual male!

Watch the launch promo of "Made In Heaven" here.

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